by Albert Rodriguez -
SGN A&E Writer
There's no shortage of great live shows in the month of September to choose from - in fact, the most difficult thing is narrowing down the dozens of possibilities to a single digit, so I've done it for you. Here are my top eight concert picks for the weeks ahead.
Benaroya Hall, September 4
Scoring a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2007 was a wake-up call to R&B listeners who otherwise paid little attention to this talented chanteuse. The New Orleans songstress can now celebrate a higher profile, earning strong reviews from USA Today, LA Times and People - all in the same week - for her sophomore release, Turn Me Loose, which debuted at #14 on Billboard's top albums chart. Seattle audiences can check out Ledisi at Benaroya Hall September 4, participating in the KWJZ co-sponsored event "Jazz in the City: Summer Finale III." If her performance matches her high praise, she'll floor anyone who can race to the box office just before start time. An exclusive interview with Ledisi appears this week in the Seattle Gay News, in the "The Music Lounge" column.
Music and Arts Festival
You know the drill: three days of shirtless boys running around Seattle Center, food vendors selling everything from funnel cakes to sloppy Thai, and tireless hippies attempting to dance to music they don't even know - yes, Bumbershoot arrives this weekend with the usual suspects, and the 2009 lineup screams a little Gay. Katy Perry, The Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, Franz Ferdinand, The All-American Rejects, Yeah Yeah Yeahs? C'mon, someone was sipping apple martinis at Kurrent when this artist roster was put together. But, aside from the big names performing on the main stage, don't forget to catch MSTRKFT, Raphael Saadiq, or local act The Cave Singers in their Bumbershoot debuts this weekend. From Capitol Hill, the #8 bus quickly gets you to/from Seattle Center, and from downtown you can hop on the monorail for a two-minute zip.
Pink w/ The Ting-Tings
Key Arena, September 15
I met Pink about eight years ago, following a mini set at a radio show inside the Qwest Field Exhibition Hall. She was incredibly polite, and barely known outside the Top 40 circuit. Today, she's one of the biggest-selling female artists in the world and one of a small number that performs in large sports venues - speaking of which, her upcoming Seattle concert has been moved from WaMu Theater to Key Arena by popular demand. She's got a lot of fire as a live performer, plus a catalog of great hits stretching from "There You Go" to "Get the Party Started" to "So What." Loved equally by Gay men and young Lesbians, Pink descends to the Emerald City in mid-September to launch her multi-city fall-winter tour with edgy-pop duo The Ting-Tings.
Neumos, September 16
If you think Seattle has a hot music scene, try living in Glasgow, where bands like Franz Ferdinand, Garbage, Snow Patrol, Belle and Sebastian, Sons and Daughters, Travis, and Frightened Rabbit exchange tour stories at local pubs on any given night. The last mentioned in this group is an impressive folk-rock quartet with the potential for a major breakthrough in the years ahead. When Frightened Rabbit played at Chop Suey earlier this year, they attracted a rowdy bunch of fans, some who proudly soaked their Scottish roots in vast pints of beer - I'm surprised the kegs didn't run out. Listening to "Old Old Fashioned" and "The Modern Leper" on your iPod is awesome, but hearing them live is a priority - plus, the odds of you bumping into devilishly cute men with accents on a good buzz are pretty damn sweet.
The Showbox Market,
No other UK act in the past five years has cannonballed to success like the Arctic Monkeys, but while they continue to shatter records overseas, they've yet to entirely conquer the US. Don't get me wrong, they're still quite popular here - a sold out tour itinerary, including this month's Seattle gig is proof - yet they haven't become household names like U2 or Coldplay. Part of the reason is the punkish foursome's creativity-vs.-sales attitude, immersing themselves in more complex work, like this year's rather intricate Humbug. On stage, however, the Arctic Monkeys are electrifying and a nonstop ball of energy. I don't know if and how much of the new album they'll play, but I guarantee that everyone from the front to the back will be bouncing to "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" - sweatband, come hither!
Pet Shop Boys
Not-so-straight disco pioneers the Pet Shop Boys are celebrating their highest-charting CD in history with 2009's Yes, featuring the global smash "Love, etc." Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have been illuminating Gay nightclubs for nearly 30 years with a roster of electro-pop gems that includes "West End Girls," "Domino Dancing," "New York City Boy," "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" and my personal fave, "It's a Sin." They're likely to play most, if not all, of these hits at the acoustically-blessed Moore Theatre, while introducing fans to fresh tracks from the aforementioned Yes. Late in 2008, PSB shared the Brit Awards stage with two fellow divas, Lady GaGa and Brandon Flowers (of The Killers) - YouTube it on your next work break. In September, be uber fabulous with the Pet Shop Boys!
Key Arena, September 21-22
Despite the fact Pearl Jam is from this neck of the woods, they rarely perform in and around Seattle - reason enough to fetch any possible tickets out there for the group's back-to-back shows at Key Arena this month. Commercially, the band has struggled to recapture the attention of the rock world, which has undergone several fads since the grunge era, yet Pearl Jam's fan base ranks as one of the most loyal in all of music - two weeks ago, I overhead a guy at a bar saying his mom was flying in from South Africa for both concerts. Indeed, to experience these rock icons in their own backyard - I've been fortunate enough to get to do it twice - is undoubtedly the zenith for any Pearl Jam diehard. Here's hoping "Jeremy" and the Grammy-winning "Spin the Black Circle" are on the set list.
The Showbox Market,
Minneapolis-based Mason Jennings is another singer-songwriter on the rise, enjoying stage collaborations with Jack Johnson and contributing a pair of tracks to the Bob Dylan biopic soundtrack, I'm Not There. Born in Honolulu, he learned to play guitar in his teen years and ambitiously self-produced his first recording in 1997. Unlike Johnson and Jason Mraz, who infuse pop and light reggae in their work, Jennings' songs cling to an authentic folk sound with earnest lyrics and simple guitar backgrounds. He'll release a new album, Blood of Man, on September 15, sure to be highlighted when he plays at The Showbox Market two weeks later. Look for an interview with Mason Jennings on September 18 in The Music Lounge, and definitely put him on your list of ones to watch.
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